Estrogen receptors in urogenital schistosomiasis and bladder cancer: Estrogen receptor alpha-mediated cell proliferation

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Urologic Oncology: Seminars and Original Investigations








Anti-estrogens; Bladder cancer; Estradiol-like metabolites; Estrogen receptors; UGS-related bladder cancer; Urogenital schistosomiasis


Estrogen-like metabolites have been identified in S. haematobium, the helminth parasite that causes urogenital schistosomiasis (UGS) and in patients´ blood and urine during UGS. Estrogen receptor (ER) activation is enriched in the luminal molecular subtype bladder cancer (BlaCa). To date, the significance of ER to these diseases remains elusive. We evaluated ERα and ERβ expression in UGS-related BlaCa (n = 27), UGS-related non-malignant lesions (n = 35), and noninfected BlaCa (n = 80). We investigated the potential of ERα to recognize S. haematobium-derived metabolites by docking and molecular dynamics simulations and studied ERα modulation in vitro using 3 BlaCa cell lines, T24, 5637 and HT1376. ERα was expressed in tumor and stromal cells in approximately 20% noninfected cases and in 30% of UGS-related BlaCa, predominantly in the epithelial cells. Overall, ERα expression was associated with features of tumor aggressiveness such as high proliferation and p53 positive expression. ERα expression correlated with presence of schistosome eggs. ERβ was widely expressed in both cohorts but weaker in UGS-related cases. molecular dynamics simulations of the 4 most abundant S. haematobium-derived metabolites revealed that smaller metabolites have comparable affinity for the ERα active state than 17β-estradiol, while the larger metabolites present higher affinity. Our in vitro findings suggested that ERα activation promotes proliferation in ERα expressing BlaCa cells and that this can be reverted with anti-estrogenic therapy. In summary, we report differential ER expression between UGS-related BlaCa and noninfected BlaCa and provide evidence supporting a role of active ERα during UGS and UGS-induced carcinogenesis.